U.S. Education Department Awards Grants to Improve Assessments for Students with Disabilities
The U.S. Department of Education has awarded grants to two consortia of states to develop a new generation of alternate assessments for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities.
The new assessments will be designed for a wide range of students with significant cognitive disabilities and will be aligned to the common set of college- and career-ready standards that were recently developed by governors and chief state school officers and have been adopted by 35 states and the District of Columbia. The tests will assess knowledge of mathematics and English language arts in grades 3-8, and one grade in high school.
Grants have been awarded to:
- The National Center and State Collaborative Partnership (a consortium of 18 states, the District of Columbia, and several territories led by the University of Minnesota). Awarded $45 million. And,
- The Dynamic Learning Maps Alternate Assessment System Consortium (a consortium of 11 states led by the University of Kansas). Awarded $22 million.
“Because of their emphasis on improving curriculum and instruction and the development of both formative and summative assessments, both of these winning applications provide a comprehensive approach to assessment design that will move the field forward and significantly enhance the quality of education for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities,” said Alexa Posny, assistant secretary for special education and rehabilitative services at the Department of Education.
The National Center and State Collaborative Partnership will be led by the National Center on Educational Outcomes at the University of Minnesota. Its membership is comprised of Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Nevada, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Wyoming and six United States entities in the Pacific Rim.
The Dynamic Learning Maps Alternate Assessment System Consortium will be led by the University of Kansas Center for Research. Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Utah, Wisconsin, and West Virginia are members of the consortium.
The alternate assessments are expected to align with the assessment systems being developed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC), recent awardees of the Race to the Top Assessment program grant. The new alternate assessments will be ready for use by the 2014-15 school year.